Are Partners of Trans Necessarily LGBT(Q)?

Over at Helen Boyd’s blog, the question comes up of whether partners of transpeople identify as being under the LGBT umbrella – Helen herself says “I’m the Q that gets left off a lot,” which makes sense to me. I wanted to leave a comment but I’ve never been able to successfully register on Helen’s site to do so, so I decided to make a post of my own to discuss the topic.

In order to be attracted to, and have a successful relationship with someone who is considering, or has crossed over the gender barrier, does a person need to have a little Q in them? I suspect the answer is yes but I’m well aware that this is a very sensitive subject touching on not only how the cisgender* partner self-identifies, but also how their transgender partner might feel about the way s/he is seen in relationship to her/his cis partner once s/he has fully transitioned. If a wife considers herself straight while married to a man, and continues to consider herself straight after her spouse has transitioned to become a woman, wouldn’t that mean that either she still sees her spouse as male, or that she no longer feels that erotic energy towards her mate? Neither of which would seem, to me, to be a good thing for either spouse. Or is there a way to really and truly feel that you are only attracted to one gender, except for the unique and singular case of the person you have already spent much of your life with? I’d still argue that in this case, there’s a little queerness creeping in!

There’s also the question of the difference between a relationship that started before transition was even contemplated, and a relationship that didn’t begin until after transition was complete. In the latter case, I would assume that someone who was prepared to make a lifetime commitment to a post-transition partner with all that that entails would already have identified themselves as a little off the straight track, although I can see that for the trans partner, having someone willing to make that commitment while remaining firm in his/her straight identity would be very affirming. (I’m not talking about post-transition relationships where there has been no disclosure, as that’s a topic in and of itself.)

I’m not a big believer in labels myself, but in the case that triggered the original post (the application of LGBT scholarships), I suppose it is important to “find what fits”. Those of you out there reading who are in relationships right now, how do you (or your partner) view this? Does it apply? What possibilities have escaped my notice?

* Editor’s Note:  “Cisgender” refers to a person whose gender identity and biological sex, as assigned at birth, match.  Contrast that to a transgender person in whom those factors diverge.

Review – “BBC America Reveals: Sex Change Soldier”

I was a little apprehensive going into the latest episode of “BBC America Reveals” – titling it “Sex Change Soldier” made it sound like a tawdry tabloid exposé rather than a serious documentary on one person’s journey from male to female. But I knew they’d done previous respectful treatments of a young transman and three partners of transvestites, so I approached it with an open mind.

Captain Ian HamiltonThe format was a little different in that the female documentary-maker (unnamed, and unseen) gave a narration that showed she became a true friend to Jan Hamilton during the filming. Apart from a few interactions that Jan has with people in her life, we don’t get to see or hear from others during the hour-long show. From the start, when we see footage of “Captain Ian Hamilton” of the Elite Parachute Regiment hiking through the jungle, Jan is on-camera almost all the time.

We are introduced to Jan, who tells us that she is a 42-year-old woman trapped in a man’s body. The narrator informs us that Jan will be the first officer in the (presumably British) armed forces to “undergo a sex change” – transition. She continues on to say that during the making of the documentary, she came to fully understand the price that Jan must pay to go through this.

Jan takes us through her daily routine of voice exercises, putting on makeup, tucking, and – after she shows us her thinning hair – putting on her wig. “I’m still Ian when I wake up.” Each morning she jogs four miles, in an effort go from 224 lbs and 14″ biceps, down to 154 lbs. Despite only having dressed in public for four months, Jan is ready to go to Thailand for FFS, “to have my face rebuilt to make me look like a woman”.

Jan Hamilton“I hid behind this big wall of being a paratrooper … I hated myself and I hated the world and I hated being in the world.” Jan had an overpowering sense of the wrong person, the wrong body.

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My Wife, Bob

My Wife, Bob

I often wonder sometimes how I would have reacted if the shoe was on the other foot – that being, that, if one night, my wife would have come to bed, got under the sheets and surprised me wearing Men’s Briefs and genitalia to compliment them. Could I be ok with that, if it were me?

Lets take it a step further and add in Male hormones, a boy hair cut, facial hair and she would now like YOU to address her, as “him” – a “man” named Bob.

I have talked with hundreds of M2F cross dressers and transsexuals, and one of the things that I find that most (but not all) have overwhelmingly in common, is that they identify as heterosexual, or Trans-Lesbian. I wonder how any of these people (or anyone, for that matter) would feel if their wife came home and said, “I think I am man”.

If you’re Transgendered, try to imagine for one second that your not. Now imagine your beautiful wife that you fell in love with – and all her femininity that balances your masculinity, is now being offset by her’s. Think about your first company picnic, where you bring your wife and all your co-workers and even your boss is first exposed to your “spouse”, Bob. Could you deal with having to be forced to appear as a homosexual Gay man?
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Children as a Weapon

Here is something I wrote on my personal blog, it is something I felt was important and needed to be shared here as well.

I have been thinking about children and transition again. I wrote about this before after I had read a blog post suggesting that not telling our children right away can be harmful to them. In the last week I have come across a few other things that have bothered me. For those who don’t know much about me, I have two young daughters, ages 2 and 4. To say that the topic of transition and children is one that is close to my heart is an understatement. I absolutely adore my girls, and I would do anything to protect them from anything I think would harm them. I am not over protective, but I am protective of them. They are part of the reason I left law enforcement, I want to be there for them. The other reason I left was because I could not go on being Mr. Macho anymore. Two years later, I came out and started transitioning.

Anyway, back on topic here before I veer off into a whole other topic. There were really two issues sets of circumstances that I read about. One involved a friend whose spouse insinuated that her being trans might be turning one of their children trans. The other situation involved some saying that they stopping transition, and putting it off until their children were grown. The reason being that their spouse and family said it would damage the children.

Both of these situations bring up some very strong feelings in me. In both of these situation, it feels to me that the children are being used against the transitioning spouse. Anyone of us who have children know how strong the parental protection instinct is. We want to protect our children, and we would never do anything to intentionally hurt our children. Our spouses and family know these feelings and emotions too. In some cases, they try and use these against us. After all, I doubt any of us would do anything to intentionally hurt our children. I know that I would not.

Why do family members do this? I think part of the reason is because of the strong emotional bond. The fear of losing our children. Many people hold off transition until late in life because of their children. I am in no way saying this is a bad choice. It is, however, not one that I can make. I have, in the short time since I came out and began transitioning, witnessed my children flourish even more. They are happier, more self confident, more loving, and just seem better adjusted. They do not yet know that I am trans, but they do know that I am happier and that I am more involved with them. I am no longer distant and depressed, I am now more fully engaged in life.

Some family members see children as a means to stop someone from transitioning. They fear losing the person they have known their whole life, they fear the transition process, they fear transsexuality, in short, they do not understand. I have heard time and time again how well children handle transition, especially when the non-trans parent is supportive. The difficulties arise when that spouse is negative and actively and outwardly resists the transition. In these cases, the non-trans spouse often tries to put the children between the trans spouse and transition. They use the children as a weapon against transition. The fear of the unknown can bring out the worst in some people.

I don’t know if there is an answer to preventing such reactions. Education is certainly a start. There are several resources about children and transition, such as:

http://www.colage.org/programs/trans/kot-resource-guide.pdf

http://community.pflag.org/NETCOMMUNITY/Page.aspx?pid=413&srcid=380

I think that any person who is contemplating transition, and who has children needs to be prepared. There are going to be enough fears about losing “you” and those may end up being projected onto your children. Be prepared to talk about the effect it will have on your children. My spouse asked me how I thought it would affect our children. I told her that I believed it would make them better more accepting people. That they would understand diversity more fully and learn to judge people not for how they appear, but for who they are. Not transitioning would have meant years of depression for me, and this would have not only taken its toll on me, but it would have had a negative affect on my children as well. Our children don’t care how we look, they love us for who we are. Why not let them see more of who we are.